Back to School “Safe Snack List” for Teachers

Every year, I update this list of snacks that are safe for us and provide a copy to my kiddo’s teachers.  This year, I’m sharing it here too.  ***Remember, always be sure to do your own homework and ***always read every label to make sure these snacks are safe for you.

OK Candy
Smarties
Starburst
Skittles
Gimbal’s brand jelly beans
Dum-dums lollipops
Lifesavers, hard candy, gummies
Laffy Taffy (certain sizes only, read label)
Twizzlers (original strawberry)
Sour Patch Kids
Surf Sweets
Trolli gummy worms
Swedish Fish
Airheads
Saf-T-Pops
Peeps  (certain varieties only, read label)

OK Snacks/Treats
Any fruit or vegetable
Tostitos tortilla chips (plain)
Lays potato chips (plain or barbecue; if barbecue check for milk on label)
Pringles Original (plain)
Orville Redenbachers Naturals, “Simply Salted” microwave popcorn
Skinny Pop popcorn, original
Fritos (plain)
Rold Gold brand pretzels (plain)
Betty Crocker or Keebler Fruit Snacks or fruit rollups, Gushers
Keebler Graham Crackers
Teddy Grahams: chocolate, honey, or cinnamon
Oreo’s- original and double stuffed only
Marshmallows-Kraft or Publix brand
Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips, snack bars, or anything else (whole line is top 8 free)
Ice Pops (read label)
Tofutti vanilla or chocolate ice cream
Tofutti Cuties ice cream sandwiches
So Delicious vanilla, chocolate, chocolate obsession, cookie avalanche *soy* ice cream
So Delicious Minis *soy* (ice cream sandwiches)

Drinks
Juice, Gatorade, Powerade, soda, soymilk

OK Breakfast Foods
Cheerios (plain)
Chex (wheat, corn, or rice)
Cocoa Puffs
Rice Crispies, Cocoa Crispies
Pebbles (cocoa or fruity)
Apple Jacks
Fruit Loops
Cookie Crisp
Lucky Charms
Corn Pops
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Frosted Mini Wheats
Pop Tarts (frosted strawberry or frosted brown sugar & cinnamon)

Advertisements

Pizza and Ice cream? No Problem.

_DSC0089

On more than one occasion, several in fact, we have been invited to birthday parties serving pizza and ice cream.  It’s pretty common party fare.  The first time this happened, I was a little overwhelmed with how to either A: create a milk, egg, and peanut free (and fabulous) version of these, or B:  convince my child that a safe alternative was just as good as what “everybody else” has.  Well, after many years of practice, here is what we do now.

For pizza, we use Pillsbury Original Crescent rolls for the crust.  Simply unroll the can and separate each triangle.  Viola-  pizza slices!  Then we spread a small amount of pizza sauce on each triangle.  We use Publix brand.  Now you could add your favorite dairy free cheese, such as Daiya, but my kids, having never had cheese, think replacements are just… weird.  Then, we apply 1-2 slices of pepperoni each.  We use Hormel or Oscar Meyer brand.  You could also add other toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, etc, but alas, we don’t like those either.  Bake according to crescent package directions.

For ice cream, see the recipe we use here.  In a pinch, we also love a few store bought dairy free brands, including So Delicious, and Tofutti.  Be careful to avoid flavors that may have your allergens, such as peanut butter varieties.

For cake, see the recipes we use here.  I make batches of cupcakes ahead of time, then freeze them without the icing on.  I also freeze cupcake-sized servings of icing in sandwich baggies.   When it’s time to leave for the party, I take the cupcake out of the freezer, place it in a storage container, snip the corner off a baggy of icing, add that to the container, and go.  If I won’t be at the party with them to pipe the icing on at the last minute, I’ll pipe it on before putting it in the container.  This method sometimes results in the sides of the container wearing most of the icing.  I’ve tried to stabilize it by jabbing toothpicks in before I put the lid on, but I haven’t perfected traveling with pre-iced cupcakes yet!

Ice Cream Dreams

cherry ice cream

Currently available dairy free ice creams are hard to find and a tad pricey. I was thrilled to discover the blog speedbumpkitchen.com.  I was even more thrilled to discover that they have recipes that avoid similar allergens to ours *aaaannd* they have ice cream recipes!!!  Be sure to stop by and check out her amazing creations.

Today I made a basic vanilla ice cream base using her recipes as inspiration. I have high hopes of using this vanilla base as a springboard to the wide world of ice cream flavor possibilities!

Note: If you want to make chocolate flavored any other way than adding Hershey’s syrup, you have to add the cocoa powder to a hot mixture, before chilling and before putting it in the machine.  See more details on my chocolate ice cream process below.

Ingredients:
40 large marshmallows (the whole bag was too much!)
6 cups of Silk brand Vanilla Soy Creamer
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup of sugar

Place the marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute, or until soft throughout. Whisk in 1/2 cup of soy creamer. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, and remaining creamer and stir well.

For chocolate: Warm all ingredients except marshmallows over medium heat. Bring to boil then immediately remove from heat. Whisk in 1& 1/3 cup of cocoa powder until cool. I use Hershey’s brand. Now incorporate the melted marshmallows.

Here is another recipe for a creamier, chocolate pudding based variety:

1 Qt container of Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer
2- 3.9 oz boxes of Jello instant pudding mix, chocolate flavor
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

I know how bad you want this ice cream, but it’s important to pause here and place in refrigerator or freezer for a bit to chill the mixture.

Place mixture into ice cream maker. I use the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment and run it for about 30 minutes.  The mixture will come out with a soft serve consistency.  Freeze for an additional 2-3 hours to harden to ice cream consistency.

Next, add mix-ins! Here are some of our ideas:
Crushed Oreo cookies
Safe candies
Graham crackers. We use HoneyMaid brand Honey Grahams.
Safe homemade brownies.  We use Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes.
Chocolate or strawberry syrup. We use Hershey’s brand.
Maple Syrup. We use Cary’s brand.
Honey
Cinnamon
Raisins
Maraschino cherries.
Safe chocolate chips. We use Enjoy Life or Divvies brand.
Sprinkles. Be sure to check for allergens. (Like you always do, right?).
Pretzels. We use Rold Gold brand.
Mini marshmallows (We use Publix or Kraft) or marshmallow topping (we use Smucker’s Toppings Marshmallow flavored)
Biscoff spread, Sunbutter, Wow butter, etc.
Fresh fruit
Storebought or homemade fruit preserves like blueberry or strawberry.
Peppermint extract.
Fun colors with food coloring.

After adding mix-ins, freeze for an additional 2 hours, or until desired consistency. You may need to stir once more after about an hour or so in the freezer if you have mix-ins that may have fallen to the bottom before the mixture fully solidifies.

My Child Has Food Allergies?! -Starting Places

This post is for my kids, for those who care for them, and for all of you who are just getting started and feeling overwhelmed with providing safe alternatives for someone you love who has food allergies.

I’ve discovered a lot of resources in my 10 years as a food allergy Mom.  For those of you who are also milk, egg, and peanut allergic, if you have any to add- many thanks for sharing!

1.  Of course, of course, of course- you should see a doctor and learn from them all you can about how to care for your loved one with food allergies.  Then, I suggest exploring the many fabulous resources provided by national organizations such as FARE and Kids with Food Allergies.  If you haven’t yet viewed my Resources Page, please explore the bounty of great information found on the linked pages there.

2.  We are milk, egg, and peanut allergic.  Since vegan recipes avoid animal products like milk and eggs, for us, vegan resources would be a good place to start, but **be sure to avoid products that may contain nuts.  Some great vegan blogs I’ve found (and hope to add to) include:

bunnykitchen.com

vegan-heartland.com

Or how about this list of “main stream” goodies that are “accidentally vegan”: http://www.peta.org/living/food/top-accidentally-vegan-foods/

3.  Social media!  This year, I have discovered some awesome support groups on Facebook with Moms like me that share recipes and all sorts of great tips for living with food allergies.  They may or may not have the exact allergies you do, but again, it is a starting point.  Some of them are “closed” groups, so you will have to request membership from the admins.  Some examples you can search for on facebook are: “No Nuts Moms Group Support Group and Forum”, “Peanut/Tree Nut Allergy- Safe Food Finds“, “Deliciously Dairy Free”, “Multiple Food Allergies R Us”.   I also find tons of recipes that are a good fit for us or can be modified to meet our needs on Pinterest.  Here is a link to my “allergy friendly” board, where I “pin” things that I want to try later or even links I’ve created to my own recipes to share with others.  http://www.pinterest.com/emilyloganphoto/allergy-friendly/

You can also find others who “eat like you do” on freedible.com

4.  Snack Safely.  Their primary service is the publication of the Safe Snack Guide, a catolog of snacks free of specific allergens (currentlly peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs). They also partner with several manufacturers in compiling this list.  Tons of great information, including the Safe Snack Guide, can be found at http://snacksafely.com/

5.  Blogs like us! 🙂  I have been so happy to discover other people, blogging their hearts out right along with me, sharing their experiences and recipes with others in the same boat.  These bloggers avoid all or at least some of the same allergens we do.   Again- a great starting point.  And remember, like myself and many of these bloggers disclaim: always do your own homework.

http://www.mamacado.com/p/mama-food.html

http://ibakewithout.com/about-2/

http://www.amazingandatopic.com/p/introduction.html

http://speedbumpkitchen.com/

http://indulgingwithallergies.blogspot.com/

http://www.gratefulfoodie.com/about/

http://nut-freemom.blogspot.com/

http://theallergistmom.com/about/

http://foodallergybitch.blogspot.com/

http://monicasfoodallergytips.blogspot.com/

http://yesnobananas.wordpress.com/about/

http://trickandtreatsafetoeat.wordpress.com/

http://adventuresinallergies.wordpress.com/

http://allergenmenumom.com/about/

http://ohmahdeehness.wordpress.com/about-2/

http://www.foodallergybuzz.com/

http://whyriskit.wordpress.com/about/

http://pastaandbananas.com/about/

http://blog.thrivingwithfoodallergies.com/sample-page/

http://home.allergicchild.com/about-us/

http://momversusfoodallergy.com/about/

http://foodallergythingymabob.com/about/

http://www.mothernova.com/about-mothernova/

http://foodallergysleuth.blogspot.com/p/our-story.html

http://ellasurreau.wordpress.com/

http://mustfollowrecipes.blogspot.com/

http://trustthelabel.com/?q=about

Phew!  After jotting all those down, I can’t believe there are so many!  What a blessing!  If you have a food allergy blog that I haven’t mentioned here, especially for milk, egg, and/or peanut allergies, please share!  I would love to “meet” you.  Thank goodness for internet “connectivity”.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Vacation Grocery List

_DSC0304

The only way I can actually relax on vacation, is if I do the cooking myself.  For that reason, we try to stay somewhere with a kitchen.  We have made do with just a minifridge and microwave, but let’s just say it was no gourmet affair.   Every year, I try to make a grocery list ahead of time that will allow us to be in and out quickly once we arrive at the store near our location.  This year, I’ve decided to blog it so I don’t have to rewrite the darn thing next year- and also to share with you of course!  Some items we prefer Publix brand for, but if you know of another brand substitution that is milk, egg, and peanut free- please share!

This is my list for out of town groceries for 5 days for a family of four, with two children allergic to milk, egg, and peanut.  We try to stick to simple recipes that hopefully our kitchen-away-from-home will have the tools to execute and just focus on hitting the basic food groups:  protein, produce, carb.

  • Breakfast:
  • Frosted brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts
  • +/- a box of cereal: Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Cookie Crisp
  • Vanilla soy milk.  We prefer Publix Greenwise brand but will use Silk in a pinch.
  • Lunch:
  • 1 loaf of bread.  We use Publix honey wheat.
  • 1-2 pounds of deli meat.  We do not use fresh sliced meat from the store’s deli due to the concern of cross contamination with cheese and meats containing nuts.  We use prepackaged Oscar Meyer delifresh honey ham.
  • Pepperoni.  We use Hormel original.
  • 1-2 bags of chips.  We like Tostitos original, Rold Gold pretzels, and Lays original or BBQ.  We have found milk in some BBQ brands, milk in some Tostitos flavors, and the potential for peanuts with other pretzel brands.  Always read the label.  The whole label, not just the “Contains” statement.
  • Produce:  Carrots, baking potatoes, bananas, watermelon, apples, strawberries, blueberries…mmmm.
  • Snacks:
  • Microwave popcorn.  At least a 6 pack.  We use Orville Redenbacher’s Naturals, Simply Salted variety.
  • If we’re lucky: ice cream!  We like Tofutti Cuties vanilla ice cream sandwiches, So Delicious brand vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and Purely Decadent’s Cookie Avalanche flavor of dairy free ice cream.
  • If not ice cream: popsicles!  We like So Delicious brand creamy fudge bars, Popsicle brand plain flavors (although they have recently had a recall where these contained milk so I may be revising my opinion of this brand), PhillySwirlz, and FunPops- the kind grandma always had in her freezer- the all-American brightly colored sugar-in-a-plastic-sleeve type.
  • Cookies!  We like Oreos.  Oreos have recently updated their labeling so that now ONLY the original and double stuffed are safe for us.  No more minis or vanilla kind. 😦  We also like Chips Ahoy original chocolate chip cookies.  I know the package says contains whey, but for some reason, these have never been a problem for us.
  • Dinner:
  • 1 pound of chicken breast cutlets.  1 pound of lean ground beef. 2 pounds of salmon.
  • 1 small box of Bisquick original baking mix (for “breading” oven-baked chicken).
  • 1 bottle of Morton Season All, salt and pepper.  Or *pack ahead*.
  • Canned veggies.  We like Green Giant brand green beans and corn.
  • Pasta sauce.  We use Prego Traditional variety.
  • Spaghetti.  We use Publix brand.
  • Dairy free margarine.  We use Earth Balance brand.
  • Cooking oil for greasing pans.  We use Publix brand vegetable oil, EVOO or canola spray.
  • Canned bread.  We use Pillsbury brand french loaf or original crescent rolls.
  • Tyson brand dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.
  • Oreida brand crispy crowns, waffle fries, or crispers.
  • Ketchup
  • Maybe a frozen pizza for Mom and Dad on nugget night.  Yes, we sometimes eat what they can’t.  We feel the world will be this way for them, and they will have to learn to adjust and take caution for cross contamination in every circumstance.  But that’s a whole other blog topic!
  • Hmmm.  One night left.  What to fix?  I think I will *pack ahead* (**= reminding myself) a baggy of Ener-G egg replacer and use the rest of my Bisquick box for pancakes.  So you will also need:
  • 1 package of Oscar Meyer bacon.
  • Oreida brand crispy crowns or hash browns.
  • 1 bottle of maple syrup.  We use Hungry Jack Lite.
  • Bottled water, soda
  • Plastic baggies to make snacks portable
  • Sunblock!!!

I know, this is not the absolute healthiest list, but it’s simple and I’ll rest easy knowing it’s safe and they at least got a few more nutrients than a week of fast food would provide.

Also, when we get to our kitchen-away-from home, I always run the dishwasher first to rewash the dishes.  That’s just me.  I want to know for sure that they have been cleaned properly and are free of cross-contaminants.

Happy trails!

Birthday Cakes: Bring on the Magic!

I wasn’t born a baker. Nope. I’m sorry kids, when you read this, but birthday cakes are something I dread having to make the most. Just know that I do it, and try hard to do it right, because I love you.  The pressure of coming up with a new idea, topping last year’s cake, or just meeting the expectation of your birthday cake hopes and dreams is stressful! Oh how I’ve longed to be one of those Mom’s who just order from the grocery store bakery.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know plenty of Mom’s who bake birthday cakes because they want to, but I am not one of them.  I’ve had so many cakes fall apart, only to be patched back together with icing, crumbs peaking out here, there, and everywhere. Challenges aside, I can proudly say I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed them. In fact, just today, I was given a high five to “Mom Power” and told that no matter what, they would like it… unless it was disgusting. (LOL)  So with that awesome accolade, I will share with you a compilation of my past cakes, as well as this year’s Minecraft Creeper cake adventure.

For my first child’s first birthday, I tried to make a cake from scratch, using a baking powder version of an egg substitute.  The end result…was only slightly taller than a pancake.   Fail.  But hey, she was 1, she only wanted to squash it anyway!

Then I discovered the amazing miracle of Cherrybrook Kitchen boxed cake mixes.  I love, love, LOVE Cherrybrook Kitchen products!  I am so grateful for the food allergy pioneers that came before me who decided to share their fabulous creations with the world.

If you don’t have any Cherrybrook Kitchen mix on hand, you can also try making Wacky cake or a Divvies recipe based cake.

Learn from my mistakes.  (please!) Here are some tips I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years.

  •  Always (always) grease AND flour your pan to prevent your cake from getting stuck in the pan.  I use Crisco brand shortening.
  • Crumb coats are your friend.  I’m not the one to teach you what a crumb coat is, but Google can. 🙂
  • Invest in some good tools.  I am the cheapest person I know, and I try to get by without making extra purchases.  But I will tell you, my KitchenAid standmixer and my various Wilton cake tools are lifesavers.
  • Make your life easy and do cupcakes once in a while.  Let’s face it, they’re easier and you can even buy little plastic pegs to decorate them with your favorite characters.  Jazz it up with a cupcake stand display if you want to be fancy.
  • Plan ahead for unexpected birthdays by always having pre-baked frozen cupcakes available.  I freeze mine without the icing and then freeze separate single-serving sandwich baggies of icing so I can just cut the corner off, pipe it on, and go.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to bake, cool, frost, and decorate.  I always seem to end up rushing out of the house on party day, having just put the finishing touches on the cake… and still wearing some of it.

For icing, I use Pillsbury brand Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla flavors.  I’ve also made it from scratch using a mixture of shortening, dairy-free butter and powdered sugar, although the kids prefer Pillsbury’s product over homemade.  (Can’t win ’em all!)

This year I’m trying marshmallow fondant, because I don’t think icing will create the perfect squared-off Minecraft Creeper features I’m going for.  In the past, I’ve used storebought fondant, although I had a really hard time with it and that particular brand’s labeling no longer reads safe for us.  There are lots of marshmallow fondant recipes out there.  Mine is based on trial and error. I mixed about a bag and a half , or about 16 ounces, of melted mini marshmallows (we use Kraft or Publix brand) with enough (about 3/4) of a 2 pound bag of powdered sugar until I liked the consistency.  I added 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tsp vanilla, and some gel coloring to the melted marshmallows *before* I started adding in the powdered sugar .  I used my KitchenAid dough hook (grease bowl and hook well) to save myself some elbow grease and then I hand-kneaded the finished product with Crisco and powdered sugar on my hands and the counter to keep things from getting too sticky.

I used Americolor brand gel to make my “creeper” cake green.  I used to use Wilton, but was sad to see their labels now say there is a risk of cross-contamination with our allergens.  Bye-bye Wilton.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my run through birthday cake memory lane as much as I have.  Now, go celebrate!

Cake montage_edited-2

Garlic & Herb Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

_DSC0783

I make this delicious dinner in my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. Love that thing! It’s like magic for meats, whether in the microwave or oven, they come out soooo moist. If you don’t have one, you could still roast it in the oven in a regular roasting pan.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, thawed, rinsed, inside stuff removed (of course!)

1/2 cup of dairy free butter. I use Earth Balance brand.
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced

Red potatoes, washed and diced. Enough to serve your party size.

Mix butter and seasons together and spread over, under, inside, and beneath skin of chicken.
Place potatoes in bottom of pan. Place chicken directly on top, breast side up.

Bake at 400F for 1 hour, or until meat thermometer placed in meaty party of thigh reads at least 165 degrees and meat is no longer pink.

The juices from the chicken make the potatoes so moist and flavorful and the leftover chicken can be frozen and saved for use in other dishes like chicken and dumplings.